Get behind the wheel for one last road trip before summer ends. But first check out our pick of GPS apps!
If your ride still sports a clunker of a window-mount GPS unit, it's high time to switch to your smartphone. GPS apps have come a long way in the past few years, and for as little as 99 cents you can tap into the same features that come in a stand-alone navigator costing $150 or more.
TomTom is still the Cadillac of GPS apps for iOS, and at $49.99, it is cheaper than that of most fixed units. But there are less-costly apps we looked at that modeled their features on TomTom. You do get perks for that extra money (even before a $19.99 annual fee for HD traffic info), but if you can live without advanced lane guidance and a faster-than-most location system, a cheaper app may be for you.
Of which there are several. Google Maps is already preinstalled on many iOS and Android smartphones, and for the Sunday driver who can live without voice guidance, it may be the only GPS direction tool you ever need. Waze -- available for not only iOS and Android, but also Windows Mobile and Symbian -- is also free and boasts community-sourced traffic tracking (that works better in some cities than others). We also liked the slightly more expensive TeleNav, which sells for 99 cents and comes in versions for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry.
But if you're on iOS, you can do even better.
Our Recommendation: Motion X GPS Drive
Motion X is one of the most frequently downloaded GPS apps for iOS, and with good reason: It’s cheap at 99 cents, simple to use, and, in our tests over the past six months in half a dozen U.S. metro areas, accurate. There are some hidden fees (audible, turn-by-turn directions, for example, are free for 300 days, after which you have to subscribe either monthly or annually).
Be sure to check out the predictive traffic info to avoid traffic jams. We also liked the Wikipedia button, which was a fun distraction to help us learn about attractions in the immediate area. Like most GPS apps, Motion X had all the basics, including residence and business searches, the ability to bookmark frequently visited places and to easily switch from maps to text directions.